LibriVox recording of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo. Read by Mark Nelson.
One of the great literary tragedies of all time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame features some of the most well-known characters in all of fiction - Quasimodo, the hideously deformed bellringer of Notre-Dame de Paris, his master the evil priest Claude Frollo, and Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy condemned for a crime she did not commit. (Summary by Mark Nelson)
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April 16, 2010 Subject:
Great stuff but be prepared
Very well read indeed by a talented and well-qualified "solo" reader.
Be prepared to appreciate, and endure, the many themes in this very long book (1200 English pages, 1900 French pages). This is NOT the highly-abridged plotline encapsulated in the movies. Along with detailed character development, Hugo develops subthemes (anti-cleric, anti-judiciary, anti-aristocratic, anti-xenophobic) throughout the text. If you are an aficionado of Parisian architectural history or the various means by which privileged classes held rights to various sources of income, this is a treasure trove. It centers on the Cathedral, not on Quasimodo per se. Hugo's book title was simply the name of the Cathedral, "Notre Dame de Paris", without reference to a Hunchback, which was only added to the English translation. Hugo visited the Cathedral every day while writing this, in a 6 month final rush because he'd missed the publication deadline. The book is set in the post-construction, pre-Protestant 1400s, the height of the Cathedral’s condition and of the Catholic Church in France. In Hugo’s time, the cathedral had been substantially damaged (windows, statutes, art, treasure) in the iconoclastic upheaval of the French revolutionary era and subsequent use for decades as a food warehouse. Hugo loved architecture and the Cathedral, with a result that it was restored soon after the book was published.